Nashville State Community College Culinary Student Wins National Almost Famous Chef® Competition

Marcio Florez is a culinary student at Nashville State Community College in Antioch.

Marcio Florez is a culinary student at Nashville State Community College in Antioch.

Nashville State Community College Southeast Campus, Director Kim Silverman announced today that culinary student Marcio Florez has won the Almost Famous Chef® National Competition sponsored by S.Pellegrino® in Napa Valley, California. Florez took home the 2016 Almost Famous Chef national title, the $5,000 first place award, and a one-year paid apprenticeship with a celebrity chef. He also won the Mystery Basket Challenge Award.

Florez earned the coveted title by competing against four other culinary students from across the country in a series of events over the course of two days. In addition to being named the title holder, Florez will receive a one-year paid apprenticeship with a renowned chef and will be invited to attend the 2016 FOOD & WINE Classic in Aspen as part of the Culinary Crew and assist in culinary demonstrations throughout the course of the weekend.  Chef Grae Nonas of Olamaie served as Florez’s mentor throughout the competition, advising on ways to enhance his dish.

Each year San Pellegrino® hosts the leading culinary schools across the U.S. and Canada in a fast-paced highly-intense cooking competition that spotlights the best and the brightest. In its 13th year, the event unites the nation’s most skilled and passionate culinary students from across the country. The 2016 competition kicked off in January, where the brand held a series of five regional competitions to determine who would qualify for the finals event in Napa Valley.

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Throughout the weekend, the chefs participated in a series of culinary events including the “Mystery Basket” and “Signature Dish” competition. The panel of judges included the aforementioned chef mentors along with Christina Grdovic, Publisher at Food & Wine and Destiny Antommarchi, winner of the 2015 S.Pellegrino Almost Famous Chef.

“We are so proud of Chef Florez for winning this esteemed award,” said Adaora Ugokwe, Senior Marketing Manager for Nestlé Waters North America. “His determination to win throughout the weekend was palpable, and considering the high level of talent he was up against, it was a very impressive feat. This unique competition provides deserving culinary students a platform to showcase their skills in front of revered chefs and influencers in the industry, and we look forward to following the next chapter of their culinary careers.”

“This competition has had a profound impact on my experience as a chef,” said Florez. “As I embark on my career, I will take with me all of the lessons I learned from my chef mentor and fellow competitors to propel myself forward and be the best chef I can be.”

Marcio’s winning dish was titled “Meat and Three,” a combination of Southern and Peruvian flavors. Florez is a Culinary Arts student at Nashville State’s Southeast Campus in Antioch, where he also lives with his fiancé and son. He moved to the United States from Peru when he was seventeen years old and aspires to one day open his own restaurant, dedicated to American culinary traditions but with flavors from his Peruvian roots. Florez expects to complete his Associate of Science degree in Culinary Arts at the end of the year.

Marcio’s mentor, Chef Marylou Tate, said, “This is an amazing accomplishment for Marcio, for our Culinary Arts program and Nashville as a whole. The contacts and friends that he made in Napa will be with him throughout his culinary career. It was amazing to see him perform on such an auspicious stage and to not only hold his own, but thrive.  He went up against students from some of the finest culinary schools in the country and came out on top. We are proud to watch him find success through challenging himself personally and professionally, and excited to witness the positive impacts that his experiences are having upon his peers.”

Chef Paul Brennen, Director of the Randy Rayburn School of Culinary Arts, said, “”We as a program are extremely proud of Marcio. He practiced hard and devoted countless hours to perfecting his dish for a national level competition. By winning this special competition, he has positioned himself in an elite category of culinary students.”

The Culinary Arts program at Nashville State was initiated by local restaurateur Randy Rayburn in an effort to bring more professionally trained staff to Nashville’s rapidly growing culinary industry. Nashville State’s Culinary Arts program offers both certificate and degree programs for those interested in pursuing careers in the hospitality industry. To find out more about enrolling in the Randy Rayburn School of Culinary Arts at Nashville State, you can visit the Nashville State Southeast Campus at 5248 Hickory Hollow Parkway in Antioch, or call 615-916-5872. To learn more about Nashville State Community College and the academic programs available, go to

Nashville State Community College is a two-year institution serving Davidson, Cheatham, Dickson, Houston, Humphreys, Montgomery, and Stewart Counties. Our mission is to provide comprehensive educational programs and partnerships, exemplary services, an accessible, progressive learning environment, and responsible leadership to improve the quality of life for the community it serves. Nashville State Community College is a TBR institution and complies with nondiscrimination laws: TItle VI, Title IX-Section 504 and the ADA. For more information, please visit

S.Pellegrino is dedicated to supporting culinary talent on a national and global level, with exciting programs, including The James Beard Foundation Awards, The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2016. These challenges enable rising talent to compete against their peers for recognition by panels of acclaimed chef judges and industry leaders. For more information, visit